Rediscovering Thanksgiving

Students learn about the Pilgrims and the first Massachusetts colonies, including why the Pilgrims came to the New World, their relationship with the Native peoples, and the truth behind the first Thanksgiving. 

Unit Summary

This unit challenges students to view history with a critical lens, and to notice how there is always more than one side to a story. The unit begins with the Mayflower and helps students develop an understanding of why so many colonists decided to leave England and travel to the New World. Students will explore the hardships faced by the colonists, both on the ship and once they arrive in the New World, and how the colonists persevered and relied on the geography and environment to meet their needs. Students will then learn about the Wampanoag, the people who were on the land before the Pilgrims arrived. They will learn about what the Wampanoag valued, how they viewed the Pilgrims, and how the arrival of explorers and settlers negatively influenced their tribe. Then students will be pushed to analyze what really happened at the first Thanksgiving, and whose story is being told. Students will realize that the traditional story of the first Thanksgiving contains many myths that don't accurately reflect the Wampanoag and what really happened in 1621. 

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Unit Launch

Online learning modules that include short videos and readings to help teachers prepare to teach a unit.

 

Texts and Materials

Core Materials

Supporting Materials

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Assessment

This assessment accompanies Unit 2 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Essential Questions

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  • Why did the Pilgrims leave England? What challenges did they face when they reached the "New World"? 
  • Who were the first people to live in present day New England? How were their lives and communities impacted by the Europeans? 
  • What parts of the Thanksgiving story are true? What parts are myths? 
  • Why is it important to look at history from multiple perspectives? 

Writing Focus Areas

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Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Combine simple sentences by adding conjunctions and pronouns 
  • Use subordinating conjunctions even though, although, and though
  • Write topic sentences
  • Edit for complete sentences, capitalization, and spelling

This unit continues the work of composing strong, complex sentences. Students learn to combine simple sentences using conjunctions "because," "but," and "so" and a pronoun. They also use subordinating conjunctions "even though," "although," and "though" to craft more complex sentences. All students should be attempting to include at least one complex sentence in their writing daily. For students who are still struggling to write complete sentences, we recommend using our guide Sentence-Level Feedback and Support to provide individual and small-group feedback throughout the unit. 

Paragraph-Level Focus Areas

  • Use a single-paragraph outline to brainstorm cohesive paragraphs 
  • Understand the components of a topic sentence
  • Draft topic sentences

In this unit students begin outlining single-paragraphs. Students review the key components of a strong paragraph, and work on crafting strong topic sentences. 

Informational Writing Focus Areas

  • Conduct short research projects to build knowledge
  • Take notes and sort evidence into categories
  • Introduce a topic and group related information together
  • Include illustrations and text features to aid comprehension 

In this unit students use information gathered over the course of the unit to create informational children's books to teach others about Thanksgiving. In doing so, students continue to work on conducting short research projects, taking notes, sorting evidence into categories, grouping related information, and including illustrations and text features. Informational writing in this unit builds onto writing done at the end of Unit One. 

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Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Elaborate to support ideas. Students provide evidence or examples to justify and defend their point clearly. 
  • Use vocabulary. Students use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share thoughts. 

In this unit students predominantly show understanding of the text through academic discourse. Through a range of one-on-one, group and teacher-led tasks students grapple with the deeper meanings of both core texts. Work in this unit builds directly on work done in unit 1. 

Students at this point will also be in the beginning stages of articulating ideas and participating in conversations. As noted in our Guide to Academic Discourse (below), when students first participate in discussions the focus should be on helping students clarify and share their own thoughts. Later students will be able to engage with the thinking of others, but to do so they need to be able to clearly articulate their own ideas.

Vocabulary

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Below are all of the unit vocabulary words. Prior to teaching the unit, we recommend teachers decide which words to prioritize. We also recommend that teachers decide which affixes to prioritize. See our teacher tool Prepping Unit Vocabulary (below) for more guidance on which words to pick as priority words.

Text-based

accurate alliance ally bitter bustling captive colonization colony custom damp delight epidemic establish fearsome grateful grim ill influential linger motive pleasant pledge shallow sheltered sorrow stench temper thievery treaty wary will

Root/Affix

-ance -al -ful -some -tion

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Vocabulary Package

Additional vocabulary tools that help reinforce and support student vocabulary development.

Lesson Map

1

  • “The English Colonies”

    RI.3.3

Explain what motivated the settlement and colonization of the New World and what challenges the explorers faced. 

2

  • Pilgrims pg. 13 – 23

    RI.3.3

Describe the conditions on the Mayflower and why so many people decided to take the journey. 

3

  • “Pilgrim Letter 1”

    RI.3.3

Describe Lizzy's experiences on the Mayflower and the challenges she faced. 

4

Writing

    L.3.1.f

    L.3.1.h

    L.3.1.i

Make sentences better and more interesting by combining two or more sentences.

5

Writing

  • All unit texts

    RI.3.3

    L.3.1

    L.3.1.h

    L.3.1.i

Describe what life was like on the Mayflower by writing a variety of compound sentences. 

6

  • Pilgrims pg. 25 – 34

    RI.3.3

Explain why the pilgrims were not satisfied with Cape Cod and why they were satisfied with Plymouth. 

7

  • “Pilgrim Letter 2”

    RI.3.3

Explain what readers learn from Lizzy about what life was like in the New World. 

8Essential Task

2 days

Writing

  • All unit texts

    RI.3.3

    W.3.2

    L.3.1.f

    L.3.1.h

    L.3.1.i

Write a few sentences describing the challenges and rewards of being in the New World. 

9

  • Pilgrims pg. 35 – 49

    RI.3.3

Describe who the Wampanoag were and what they valued. 

10

  • The Wampanoag pg. 23 – 31

    RI.3.3

Describe key aspects of Wampanoag culture. 

11

  • “Wampanoag Letter 1”

  • “Wampanoag Letter 2”

    RI.3.3

Analzye how the Wampanoag viewed the Pilgrims and explain why. 

12

  • The Wampanoag pg. 6 – 16

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Explain how the arrival of European explorers impacted the Wampanoag. 

13

  • Squanto's Journey

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Explain why Squanto chose to help the Pilgrims. 

14

Writing

    L.3.1.h

    L.3.1.i

Use subordinating conjunctions to write more interesting and complex sentences.

15

  • Pilgrims pg. 51 – 61

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Analyze what information is missing about the Wampanoag. 

 

16Essential Task

  • The Wampanoag pg. 18 – 21

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Describe the Wampanoag's relationship with the Pilgrims. 

17Essential Task

Discussion

    RI.3.3

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.d

Discuss unit essential question using information from multiple texts and sources. 

18

Writing

    RI.3.3

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

Draft a paragraph describing what it was like to be a Wampanoag in 1621.

19

  • Pilgrims pg. 70 – 83

    RI.3.3

Analzye an account of the First Thanksgiving and explain what happened. 

20

  • Thanksgiving Story pg. 13 – 28 — (start at The New Land)

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Analzye an account of the first Thanksgiving and explain what happened. 

21

  • 1621 pg. 27 – 39

    RI.3.3

    RI.3.9

Analzye an account of the first Thanksgiving and explain what happened. 

22

  • 1621 pg. 37 – 43

    RI.3.3

Analyze an account of the first Thanksgiving and explain what happened. 

23Essential Task

Discussion

  • All unit texts

    RI.3.9

    SL.3.1

    SL.3.1.a

    SL.3.1.d

Discuss unit essential questions using information from multiple texts and sources. 

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5 days

Informative Writing

    W.3.2

    W.3.2.a

    W.3.7

    W.3.8

    L.3.2.a

Students will research, draft, illustrate, and create books to teach younger students about the the real story of the First Thanksgiving. 

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Assessment

Common Core Standards

Language Standards
  • L.3.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • L.3.1.f — Ensure subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement.

  • L.3.1.h — Use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.

  • L.3.1.i — Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.

  • L.3.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

  • L.3.2.a — Capitalize appropriate words in titles.

Reading Standards for Informational Text
  • RI.3.3 — Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

  • RI.3.9 — Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic.

Speaking and Listening Standards
  • SL.3.1 — Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

  • SL.3.1.a — Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.

  • SL.3.1.d — Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.

  • SL.3.6 — Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

Writing Standards
  • W.3.2 — Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

  • W.3.2.a — Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.

  • W.3.7 — Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.

  • W.3.8 — Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.

Sprial Standards

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L.3.1

L.3.2

L.3.2.a

L.3.2.e

L.3.2.f

L.3.2.g

L.3.4

L.3.4.b

L.3.6

RF.3.3

RF.3.4

RI.3.1

RI.3.10

RI.3.4

RI.3.5

RI.3.7

SL.3.1

SL.3.4

SL.3.5

SL.3.6

W.3.10

W.3.4

W.3.5

W.3.6